By Nasihin Masha
Bob Woodward counted to 10. Across the line, still in silent. Bob just asked for confirmation from his secret agent who used pseudonym “Deep Throat”. If within ten seconds this FBI source -in the next 33 years later he was known as William Mark Felt- he did not answer. Then this issue had been considered as confirmation to information he just received. Felt was still in silent. Bob hung up his telephone. The reporter who was still under one year of work immediately ran to deliver the news to chief editor’s desk. Then, the report about Watergate scandal shook all over United States the next day. Later, President Richard Nixon stepped down from his position.
The calling process was a closing of verification processes. Felt kept delivering information to Bob. But the Washington Post did not simply release the illegal wiretapping terrible news done by Nixon campaign team to his political opponent. The junior Bob then paired up with political senior journalist, Carl Bernstein.
They hunted for sources to verify the information they have received. They even knocked on every door to check on one name, for example. Yes, verification. Not just a confirmation. Not just to find both side cover: one made a statement, one responded. That was too simple. And it was not a true journalism.
Journalism that allow the media – newspaper, magazine, television, radio or web – to be a place for distributing ‘’information” is well suited to be called pipe journalism. Everything could pass, as long as there were resources and responders.
Media is not a place for distribution. Media has its own existence and identity. Media is a social institution. It has roles, functions and positions.
Those are for social order balance. If it doesn’t work as it should be then social order will be disturbed. That is how social law works. Mass media is an independent institution and interacting to other institutions. The presence of journalism is to achieve the truth.
All information is not always true. And, all information does not necessarily have news value. There are qualifications and procedures to pass. But the truth is not black and white, also not simple. It could be started with a belief only, just like what Bob Woodward did. Or could be started by anything with general logic.
For example, all political parties were certainly corrupt because they need large amount of money to move the party’s wheel. Or all regents were certainly corrupt because to be a regent took a large amount of money, as well as to keep his power going. But, it could be an anomaly occurred. There was a clean man in the sea of dirty men. There were clean actions amongst the black sands.
Hence, in journalism we are forbid to guess and assume, especially when it related to one’s interests. Conservatism application of the rules of journalism sometimes became the main character of the mainstream mass media. The excellent journalism was only born from rigorous trainings, strong discipline, thorough insights, integrity, independency and high skills.
Tradition was not built overnight. It was born out of true journalism daily activities. It took reliable and strong character journalists. Journalism in practice is not science, but more to an art. Hence, instinct and skills sometimes lead more than knowledge and intelligence whatsoever. And therefore, flight hours became relevant in this context.
Journalists often covered in the premises that journalism truth is not truth of law. That is true. But it is not a bunker to act recklessly. All qualifications and procedures must be passed before releasing news. If mistakes happen then press cannot be blamed. This is the importance of lax specialist in press laws. Also important to note, not all current news can be released after we came to substantial truth.
Because press is a serial, then journalistic truth can be processual. Truth will be achieved along with series of news released by press. Specifically for such matters of dignity, public safety, a person’s security and such, press must come to substantial truth before releasing any news. In fact, when we know the truth about something, we are allowed to hold news because it threatens public safety or one’s sanity.
Being a journalist is like a “prophet hood”. He delivered truth and good news. Therefore, pipe journalism is pseudo journalism, far from the truth. It becomes an “as if” journalism. Pipes journalism has made journalism so noisy, only crowded in the mouth, but means nothing for social welfare.